In this article, we will provide 21 helpful techniques on how to overcome the feeling of depression from living in the past and how to move on.
Depression is living in the past
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
― Lao Tzu
Lao Tzu’s saying perfectly demonstrates how living in the past is a sign of depression, living in the future is a sign of anxiety and only when you live in the present and enjoy each moment is when you feel at peace. Therefore it is important to let go and to stop living in your past as it might cause depression.
Techniques to overcome the depression from living in the past
- Understand event hurt you
- Accept your situation and the decisions you made
- Work on letting go of the past
- Focus on what you learned from your mistake
- Be compassionate towards yourself
- Forgive other people
- Ensure you do not make the same mistakes again
- Redirect your thoughts
- Set a time apart for worry
- Change your negative thoughts and feelings
- Build stronger bonds with family and friends
- Engage in physical activity and exercise
- Avoid things that remind you of your past
- Be hopeful about your future
- Learn from your past but don’t dwell on it
- Express your feelings and emotions
- Engage in the practice of mindfulness
- Seek the help of mental health professionals
- Stop playing the blame game
- Redirect your focus on the present
- Make new happier memories
Understand what hurt you
The first step in overcoming depression from living in the past is to understand what hurt you in the past that caused distress and trauma to you. It is important to identify the situation, event, or individual that hurt you and caused feelings of sadness and hurt.
Accept your situation and the decisions you made
It is important to remember that we cannot change our past or go back and edit our mistakes. Therefore it is important to accept our past and the decisions that we made at that time. Even though the decisions now when seen in hindsight might not be the correct ones but remember at that time they seem to be the best options for you.
Work on letting go of the past
It is unhealthy to go over your past again and again as that only leads us to feel distressed and hurt. It is important to start working on letting go of the past. You need to realize that the past cannot be changed and holding onto it will only increase the level of sadness that you feel right now.
Focus on what you learned from your mistake
Rather than seeing your past as a big mistake focus on what you can learn from this mistake of yours. Rather than being depressed from living in the past, make the mistake a reminder of what you need to do differently for a better future.
Be compassionate towards yourself
It is natural to think about your past and keep playing the event again and again in your brain. We are human and we all do this, so be compassionate towards yourself and understand that it will take time for you to overcome the depression from living in the past. Treatment cannot be rushed therefore be patient with yourself and your progress.
Forgive other people
Another important step in letting go of the past is after forgiving yourself to forgive people whom you feel have wronged you. You need to forgive them even if they haven’t apologized to you. Holding the anger and hatred towards them only stops you from overcoming depression and feeling happy, it does not affect them at all.
Ensure you do not make the same mistakes again
Another way to overcome depression from living in the past is to ensure that you do not make the same mistake again that you made earlier. Knowing that you have grown as a person and become smarter, someone who would not make the same mistake again. This will help you see the past as a learning experience rather than a mistake.
Redirect your thoughts
If you find your thoughts going to the past experiences again and again redirect them to the current situation. It is important to redirect your thoughts to the present moment and experience it fully. It is only when you are present in the moment and living it to its fullest is when you can feel at peace.
Set a time apart for worry
If thoughts of the past are continuously playing in your mind and causing problems in performing your day-to-day activities then schedule a time in your day just for worrying. Find a time to think about the past and experience the emotions associated with it.
Change your negative thoughts and feelings
If because of the past you notice yourself having negative thoughts and feelings about your current situation try to notice positive things that are happening around you right now. Change the negative thoughts and feelings with something positive or happy that is going on in the present situation or happen in your past.
Build stronger bonds with family and friends
Rather than isolating yourself due to depression from living in the past reach out to your family members and friends. Spend more time and build stronger bonds with them as having a strong social support system has shown to help overcome depression.
Engage in physical activity and exercise
Rather than staying indoors and lying on your bed all day, engage in some type of physical activity and exercise. This could include going for a 30-minute walk or run, joining a sport, or joining a gym. Any physical activity will help decrease the symptoms of depression.
Avoid things that remind you of your past
Get rid of or avoid things that remind you of your past and cause distress and feelings of hurt. Along with letting go of the thoughts of your past you also need to let go of objects that remind you of it.
Be hopeful about your future
Rather than letting your past cloud your judgment about the future and become hopeless, be hopeful about your future. Remember that you now have the ability to learn from your mistakes and make sure to never repeat them, this will help you make better decisions in the future.
Learn from your past but don’t dwell on it
There is a fine line between learning from your past and dwelling on it. It is important to think about your past but only as a way to learn from your mistakes and not letting them be reminders of times of hurt and misery.
Express your feelings and emotions
Rather than suppressing your feelings about your past, express your feelings and emotions openly. Bottling up the feelings will only add to the symptoms of depression. Expressing and letting go of these feelings is very important to overcome depression.
Engage in the practice of mindfulness
Redirecting your thoughts to the present moment can be a little difficult therefore try and engage in the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness helps an individual to focus more on the present and help to fully experience what is going on right now.
Seek the help of mental health professionals
In case despite all your efforts to overcome depression from living in the past you still feel yourself to be making no progress, seek the help of mental health professionals. They can help you understand the reason for your pain and how you can overcome it.
Stop playing the blame game
Another way to overcome depression from living in the past is to stop playing the blame game. That is you need to stop blaming your past for your current situation and you need to stop blaming yourself or others for how things turned out to be.
Redirect your focus on the present
Rather than being depressed from living in the past redirect your focus on the present. Notice what is going on in your current surroundings, what feelings and emotions are you feeling because of them, and how people are with you right now. Only when you focus on the present will you feel peaceful.
Make new happier memories
To overcome depression from living in the past you need to make new and happy memories to replace the old sad ones. Make new memories and remember them when you feel sad so as to cheer yourself up. Replace those old hurtful memories with new cheery ones.
In this article, we provided 21 helpful techniques on how to overcome the feeling of depression from living in the past and how to move on.
FAQs: Depression from living in the past
Does depression make you dwell on the past?
According to reports, individuals with depression are more likely to dwell on negative memories from their past rather than on positive memories. So for example a person with depression is more likely to remember failing in their exam rather than the time when they got full marks.
What is worrying about the past called?
The art of worrying about your past is called rumination. Rumination involves individuals to overthink or obsess about their past life situations and experiences. Individuals who are more likely to have anxiety personalities tend to experience more rumination.
Does depression make you older?
Yes, depression can make you older as studies have shown that people with major depressive disorders were found to be biologically older than individuals who did not report any depressive symptoms. The study also reported that childhood trauma exacerbates this effect.
Can you have anxiety about the past?
Yes, you can have anxiety about the past and for many individuals, their source of anxiety is their past. We as humans tend to replay past events or experiences in our heads in which we feel stressed or events that we now regret. At times this event gets stuck in our heads and plays on repeat, not allowing us to move on. Even many present situations can become trigger points for our anxiety about the past.
Does depression cause memory loss?
Yes, depression can lead to memory loss and so can stress or anxiety. It has been proven that depression can cause symptoms of forgetfulness as there is confusion, difficulty in concentrating, and low attention spans. This can create problems and disrupt daily activities.
What triggers memories in the brain?
When a specific group of neurons is fired up and reactivated, it triggers memories in the brain. These particular patterns of neural activity in the brain, that is when certain clusters of neurons become active in a particular sequence we remember and our memories are revived.
What we recommend for depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioral therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.